How 2 girls from worlds apart are sharing their passion for art

The Kings Playhouse in Georgetown, P.E.I., is exhibiting the work of an 11-year-old Syrian artist and refugee, along with the work of a 13-year-old artist from Charlottetown.

'The experience of young women can be so similar, even though their circumstances are so different'

Rahma, left, draws a lot of female portraits. Lauren, right, says the colour in her art is often a reflection of her mood at the time. (CNW Group/World Vision Canada)

Lauren Graham is a 13-year-old girl living on P.E.I. and attends Queen Charlottetown Intermediate School in Charlottetown.

Rahma is an 11-year-old living in a refugee camp for Syrians 8,000 kilometres away in Jordan.

While their life experiences are very different, their common love of art is the focus of a new exhibit at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown, P.E.I., called Rahma and Friends — Art Will See Us Through.

Haley Zavo, executive director of The Kings Playhouse, said it's interesting to see how the girls express their emotions through their art.

"One of the pieces that Rama had drawn was strikingly similar to a piece that Lauren had drawn and they didn't know it," she said in an interview with Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie.

"That was really interesting that in so many ways, the experience of young women can be so similar, even though their circumstances are so different."

Deep expression of emotions

Zavo said she sees a lot of simplicity in Rahma's art, but also a deep expression of her emotions and her reality.

"There are a lot of female portraits, and she says that she paints strong women because she wants to be one. And I think that that's just such a touching and an inspirational way to see the world when you're living in maybe conditions that we can't even imagine and to still have that hope."

Lauren describes her own work as "very abstract." She said she usually doesn't plan out her paintings, she just let's her feelings guide her.

"If I'm having a really good day, the colours might be a little bit more light, if I'm having a down day they might be darker. And just basically it goes off of how I'm feeling. But most of time, the majority are colourful."

The idea for the exhibit came from its curator, Natja Igney, a France-based independent writer and communications consultant with ties to P.E.I. She had organized Lauren's first international exhibition in France in 2019, and learned about Rahma and her work while writing for World Vision Syria Response's awareness campaign around the 10-year milestone of Syria conflict.

The opening reception for Rahma and Friends — Art Will See Us Through was held Saturday at The Kings Playhouse. It included poetry by Khaled Youssef, a live reading by author and war artist Sharon MacKay, and live music by Ava and Lily Rashed.

Runs until Aug. 7

The exhibit will run until Aug. 7.

Lauren said she gained a lot of insight from the exhibit and learning about Rahma, who has been living in refugee camps since she was just one year old.

"Just living everyday life, you don't realize how much you're taking for granted. And I think that's really important to just think about every day, like even just going to school ... it's important to think about, like some children can't do this, and some children are in war right now," she said.

"You have to really take every day in as much as you can and not take anything for granted because some children don't have that opportunity."

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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.